Colorectal Cancer: The Silent Assassin
What you don’t know could kill you
Just hearing the word “cancer” can conjure feelings of unease and fear. Even as the medical field continues to advance day by day to combat this disease, the best weapons continue to be prevention and early detection.
Recently the world was shocked at the death of the popular and talented actor, Chadwick Boseman, who played the protagonist in a number of movies. Most notably, Boseman played the superhero T’Challa in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Black Panther.”
Boseman was only 43 when he died. The cause of death, according to his family, was colon cancer.
The Ace Up Our Sleeves
When it comes to colorectal cancer, the most common symptom is NO symptom, that’s why it’s called the silent assassin. Colorectal cancer is the third-most diagnosed cancer in the United States, and colon and colorectal cancers are the second leading cause of death by cancer in the U.S. The risk of colorectal cancer during a lifetime, according to the American Association of Cancer (AAC), is about one in 23 for men and one in 25 for women. The AAC estimates some 147,950 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and as many as 53,200 people will die from it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Hispanics in Arizona.
Despite the high statistics, we still have an ace up our sleeves. With a timely medical examination, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. If colorectal cancer is detected early enough, there is still a high probability for successful treatment. This is why getting screened is essential – it literally could save your life.
According to the CDC, detection exams, or screenings, should begin at 50 years of age for both men and women. People with higher risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer, should consider getting tested at an earlier age.
“Colon cancer can be prevented when you have an examination (colonoscopy) and polyps (precancerous) are found and removed,” said Kalvin Ulloa, Manager of Quality Improvement for Equality Health. “Sometimes there are no symptoms present when a tumor can be developing, which is why it is very important to schedule a detection exam. Symptoms include blood in feces, abdominal pain or a change in size of feces,” said Ulloa.
Early Detection is Vitally Important
When colorectal cancer is discovered at an early stage, before it begins to spread, the probability of survival of five years is approximately 90%. However, only about four out of 10 cases of colorectal cancer are detected at this stage. When the cancer spreads from the colon or rectum, the chances of survival are much lower, according to the AAC.
One out of three people in the U.S. require a colorectal cancer exam but have yet to conduct one. If you are 50 years old or older and have not had a screening yet, schedule a detection test. If your parents, brothers or other close family members have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, speak immediately with your doctor so you can explain your risk of this disease and schedule a detection test.
Equality Health’s network of medical professionals can help you schedule your colorectal screening appointment. Many doctor’s offices are taking extra steps to make sure that hygiene and sanitization measures are taken, to help ensure patient safety, so you can confidently schedule your medical consultation.
Chadwick Boseman’s family reported that he had a late-stage diagnosis of Stage III colon cancer in 2016 and, despite “countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the cancer progressed. Take action today because tomorrow might be too late.
Published in Prensa Arizona, 09/24/2020